Friday, January 30, 2015

Kitzbuehel, St. Moritz, and Schladming Wrap-Up

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

There was a lot of action from last Friday through Tuesday. OK, the fans were really disappointed by most of the races last weekend. We got lots of letters, e-mails, and tweets about how bad the races were. Because we never want to ignore our fans, we turned everything over to our Answer Man, who is really a member of our intrepid research team. Here are some of the questions and comments we got about the races in Kitzbuehel, St. Moritz, and Schladming. Let's find out what the Answer Man has to say...

Question: Why did the Alpine combined in Kitzbuehel only have 27 starters in the 2nd run?
Answer Man: The official answer was that the first part of the combined race had an early afternoon instead of a morning start time. The second run had to start 3 hours later to allow for course setting and inspection. Many of the speed specialists wanted to rest for the next day's downhill race, though in hindsight they could have competed in the slalom leg and had plenty of strength and energy for the downhill. The real answer is that the field for the second run was limited to 30 so that everyone would get points. The American representative on the race jury said that those who could not finish in the top 30 would feel bad about themselves and suffer lifelong trauma. The field was limited so that everyone who finished the two legs of the race would get World Cup points. You may be wondering, doesn't an Austrian committee oversee the race? Yes, that's true. But the US representative was able to override both the Kitzbuehel race committee and the FIS race jury.
Question:  I saw "Streif: One Hell of A Ride" and the downhill in Kitzbuehel on Saturday was nothing like in the movie. Was the movie real, or was it really a bunch of Hollywood special effects?
Answer Man: The movie was indeed real. Unfortunately, the race had to be severely shortened because of stubborn fog on the course that refused to clear up. By the time the race finally started, it was too late to do a two-run downhill, so a sprint had to suffice. Well, a second run probably could have been held. But it would have been dark and the athletes would have stopped to ask for directions to the finish line. That would be even more boring than a sprint downhill. Hopefully the Hahnenkamm downhill will be more like the movie next year.
Question:  Does Kjetil Jansrud really deserve his own gondola after winning the Kitz DH? After all, it was a sprint. Shouldn't he get a t-bar with his name on it instead?
Answer Man: This year's Hahnenkamm downhill was big bust because it started halfway down the course. It was barely longer than a typical slalom run. If you blinked your eyes, you missed the racer on course. But look at it this way. An Olympic sprinter and marathon runner both get gold medals. The sprinter doesn't get half a medal because he ran a shorter distance. Kjetil will get a gondola, and not a t-bar or a seat cushion on a chair lift, just like any other winner in Kitzbuehel.
Question:  Lindsey Vonn was 23rd in the St. Moritz downhill race and used the excuse of the course being too easy for her poor showing. That has to be the weirdest excuse I ever heard.
Answer Man: You are not alone. We thought we heard every excuse in the book, but that was a new one for us too. She actually had a trifecta of excuses: wind, inner ski hit something, and the course being simple. Who knows...many of us tend to concentrate more when something is difficult. Lindsey probably just decided not to concentrate on the course because she felt it was so easy. Here is what I think. She and her publicists have to keep coming up with new and different excuses when she doesn't win because the old ones are getting boring. Belly aches? Depression? Wind? Ninja stones? Yawn! If ski racing is going to ever interest more than 0.01% of the US population, especially during the run-up to the Super Bowl, the excuses for losing need to be more and more outrageous to keep people's attention.
Question:  Why was the St. Moritz downhill course so boring? The top part was something that my kid could ski on after 2 lessons. Even the rest of the course looked very easy with only one tricky turn. Why are most women's downhill races so boring now?
Answer Man: I agree that St. Moritz was a downhill race that was made for big gliders, even though the smallest woman in the World Cup won it. The top part was so flat that the women could not even get out of the start house on their own. They were shot out by a special catapult, which was the only excitement of the race. Because Lara Gut was so tiny, she was able to be catapulted out the furthest and didn't have to stay as long on the flat section as the bigger women. That helped to literally propel her to victory. As to the second part of the question, it is a comfort thing. If downhill races are on easy gliding courses, the same people will carry on winning them. Scientific studies have proven that people feel more comfortable when the outcome of a race is pre-determined. People don't want suspense, they want predictability. The FIS is just giving the fans what they want.
Question: Did Ante Kostelic set the course for the women's Super-G in St. Moritz? If not, then what is the difference between the course setting for the St. Moritz DH and Ante Kostelic's slalom settings at the Sochi Olymics?
Answer Man: No, the Super-G was set by the Austrian trainer, though you'd never know it by the number of Austrians who had trouble on that course. There wasn't really much of a difference because both courses had an extremely high DNF rate, despite what others might say. It turns out that the Austrian trainer who set the St. Moritz course went to a special course setting seminar taught by Ante Kostelic. Ante taught him how to set creative courses that challenge the athletes' technical skill and ability to think and make adjustments at high speeds.
Question: Will Austria fire its coaching staff since there were no Austrians on the podium in either the Kitzbuehel downhill or the Schladming slalom races?
Answer Man: No, but there will be some athletes spending their summer holiday time in the salt mines outside of Salzburg instead of on the beach. The Austrian press and public are very unforgiving and nothing short of a stint in the salt mines will satisfy them.
Question: Why didn't Alexander Khoroshilov smile after winning the Schladming slalom? You'd think he would have been thrilled to win his first WC race.
Answer Man: He's Russian. When was the last time you saw a Russian smile? The real answer is that Alexander became friends with Swiss star Carlo Janka. Carlo's nickname is "Iceman" because of his cool, almost stoic demeanor. It turned out that Alexander and Carlo decided to have a competition to see who could be the coolest after winning a race. Alexander won hands down, though if you looked hard enough, you could see him barely cracking a smile.
Question:  How do Dr. Mabongo and new German men's trainer Mathias Berthold get along? Berthold is Austrian and doesn't believe in witch doctors and Dr. Mabongo is a witch doctor.
Answer Man: The German men have really improved this season with Berthold at the helm and with Dr. Mabongo coming over from the women's team. Even though Stefan Luitz got injured early in the season, right after getting his first podium finish, Linus Strasser has come on strong. Some of the young German speed racers are also showing promise. Berthold and Dr. Mabongo didn't get along at first because Berthold never worked with a witch doctor. Austrian racers have always been so good, the OeSV never needed team witch doctors. In fact, Berthold refused to work with Dr. Mabongo. But Fritz Dopfer saved the day and said that Dr. Mabongo inspired him to victory over Canada to give Germany a bronze medal in the 2013 World Championships team event. Berthold and Dr. Mabongo now get along very well because Berthold handles the physical training and Dr. Mabongo brews his potions and helps with mental training. Judging from Germany's results this season, Berthold and Dr. Mabongo are the perfect combination.
Question:  Is Dr. Mabongo going to win the Dave Seville Award again this year?
Answer Man: Does the FIFA Ballon d'Or award go to either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo every year? This season Dr. Mabongo would be especially deserving because of how the German men are doing this season. We will have to wait until the end of the season to find out, but Dr. Mabongo seems to be the heavy favorite for the 2015 Seville Award.

Well, that is all the time we have for your questions. Keep on submitting them to us and we will answer them. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive story.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: If your question didn't get answered this time, keep trying. After all, it took Matthias Hargin 90 tries before he won his first World Cup race.

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